Are Positive People Ever Negative?

Have you wondered if positive people are ever negative? Do they get down or experience disappointment? Do they ever have a bad attitude?

The truth is, bad things happen to everyone. All of us have challenges in life. There are disillusionments. We do not get everything we want. Sometimes we lose. We have family, friends and coworkers who suffer. There is sickness and death. What we expect does not always happen. Our deepest desires sometime become our largest disappointments. Life is tough.

I happen to be a very positive-thinking person. Being positive is almost a requirement when the name of your business is “Mondays Are Great.” Because a positive attitude is expected of me, it also is important to tell you that I have my share of tough moments. I am just like everyone else when it comes to negative situations. But the difference may very well be in how I respond. And this may come as a surprise to many: my first response to the negative is to accept it – even embrace it at times.

Positive people may make the mistake of trying to put on a happy face immediately when trouble arises. When they do this, often within seconds, it is not surprising that some people may detect a bit of artificiality. We attempt to “fake out” others with our smile and calm disposition, and even more importantly, we “fake out” ourselves! I am not suggesting that one should have a negative attitude. What I am saying is that we need to accept the reality of what has happened. Accepting the reality does not mean this is a “final resting place.” It means we see things as they are. I have heard it said that the beginning of mental illness is when a person fails to recognize the truth of their circumstances. Being dishonest is not sound and it will hurt the long-term effort to being positive.

The paradigm shift over my life has moved me from promoting a positive attitude to pushing for a winning attitude. A positive attitude is still very important, but I now see it as a one-core element of a four-step process that I call a “winning attitude.” 

A winning attitude is more comprehensive. It is a process that contains four elements: accepting reality, being positive, becoming confident and being grateful.

Accepting reality is the shift I have made in my life. We can win more often if we realize how things really are. In his classic best-selling book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins points to data that shows that the great (winning) companies are ones that “Confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.” These companies move past their facts because they first face them.

If you have ever seen someone smile, knowing that it was not real, you can understand the importance of starting from the true beginning of things. Simply put . . . the way things are!

A winning attitude far surpasses just a positive attitude. It takes into account the fact that we have bad moments in life. It recognizes that we must embrace the truth of our existence if we are ever going to get to a positive place.

If I just lost a major customer, or lost a bid for major business, the last thing I want to be is positive. I am mad and upset. I am disappointed. I wonder about my own abilities. What did I do that caused me to lose? Telling me to “get a happy face” is the last thing I want to hear.

If you are responsible for a team, you should always start with where your members are. Start with reality. Begin with the current status. No one likes to be told to be positive if at the moment they do not feel that way. If something happened that was not good for me, then the last thing I want to do is to put on a plastic smile just to make you happy. I want to own my sadness for a moment. I want you to realize that I have taken one of life’s inevitable hits!

People want to know that they are heard and understood. That is a huge desire and need for everyone. I want to know that you accept me for who I am even if I can’t at the moment be all that you want me to be. Help me to win by first beginning with where I am in my journey.

If you start with the brutal facts of a person’s status, then it becomes much easier to move them later to being positive, being confident and then being grateful. This is a process that if followed will ensure you will end up winning in life.

After we accept our current status, the next logical step would be to move to the level of positive thinking. Being positive is the “glass half full” concept. It matters how we say things, the words we use. A glass half full recognizes that we are not where we want to be. It shows that our current status has been embraced. However, it points out that we do have something. No one has zero. Sometimes our glass may be only a fourth or even a tenth full. But, it does have something. All human beings have something in their glass.

From the positive position we then move to being confident, like the little train that could. We may be at the bottom of the hill where current status is all too obvious, but we think we can get to the top. “I hope I can” soon becomes “I think I can, I think I can!” which soon becomes “I can, I can!” as we get nearer to the top. It is a process. The entire trip to the top is recognition of our status – what is real.

From the mountain top of confidence we move to gratefulness. We look back at our journey and realize we have much to be thankful for. We started with something and gained much. Gratefulness is what keeps us going and at the top.

You can see in this process the constant recognition of the current status. The concept of the glass half full and starting at the bottom are steps that help us recognize our current status in life.

It is okay to feel sad, disappointment or to be upset. It is actually the first step toward a winning attitude. During the toughest times in my life, I am reminded about something important my mother taught me. When knocked down, get back up. When knocked down, recognize you are down and embrace the truth. This will enable you to get back up and win in life.

I hope you win and that you teach your team to win. Start with reality. Next, be positive. Move to confidence. Arrive at gratefulness.


For  information on Rob’s Signature Speech, Mondays are Great, see his speaking page

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